I serve on the WFAN board because I am inspired by the changemakers who are working hard to improve the health of their communities. WFAN’s work elevates women and the work they do. From the soil’s microbiota to pollinator habitats, wetlands, farmers markets, and political office, women are leading changes in our food system. Just as we know we need more diversity in our diets for our physical health or on our farms for ecological health, we need more diversity both among those who are farming and those making policy decisions about agriculture.
Together, we are speaking up, showing up, and moving our farming practices from a toxic and unequal system toward a new, more inclusive, healthy, and diverse agriculture. I am humbled and honored to be a part of such a powerful community.
I grew up in rural Iowa during the Farm Crisis of the 1980s. These experiences shape my activism and my scholarship today, as well as my belief in the transformative power of our collective efforts in the face of hard and uncertain times. I am also the 8th generation of my family to call Iowa home and feel tremendous responsibility to ensuring the healthy future of our state. Iowa is ground zero for the increasing problems posed by our extractive agricultural system. How we work together to heal the land and create alternative agrifood systems in Iowa can be a model for agricultural transformation well beyond our state.
I earned a PhD in Sociology and Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University and today live and teach sociology in the Quad Cities. Currently, I am facilitating a participatory research project in Iowa’s Raccoon River Watershed with funding from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. In my research, I have collaborated with Women, Food and Agriculture Network, Raccoon River Watershed Association, and other community groups.
I know that a more ecologically, environmentally, and socially just food system is not only possible, it is a necessity if we are to survive the realities of climate change. We must change from an agricultural system that exploits land and people to one that reflects our values of community, health, and public good. The creativity and courage I see among taking risks to try new things, push our conceptualizations of the possible, and lead change in our food system at local, national, and global levels gives me great hope.